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Irvine Leads on Hate Crime Action

photo courtesy: the Voice of OC

In the wake of the murders of Asian women and two others at Atlanta area massage parlors, Orange County had a rush of #StopAsianHate protests including a press conference in Fullerton hosted by State Rep. Sharon Quirk-Silva.

Missing from almost all of the speeches was actual policy to deal with hate crimes against not just Asians but hate crimes in general.  It’s easy to condemn hate against any particular group: we condemn hate against Asians, Latinx, Africans, LGBTQs, old people, young people, women and men.  But let’s see some policy to back it up.  And that where Irvine again provides leadership other cities in Orange County, the state and the nation should follow.

The hate crimes policy from Irvine Police is comprehensive and we will likely see it in action when a young man with a husky who allegedly attached a 69 year old Asian man sending him to the hospital is arrested.  For Irvine PD, I think it will actually be easier to find the dog through local veterinarians and trace it back to an owner.  Irvine has the third largest concentration of Asian residents of any city in the nation; cities issuing proclamations denouncing hate just aren’t going far enough.

Here’s the policy:

IPD recognizes the importance of protecting Irvine’s diverse community through the vigorous investigation and documentation of all hate crimes and hate incidents that occur within its jurisdiction. If you are a victim or witness to a hate crime or hate incident, please contact IPD directly at (949) 724-7200, or 9-1-1 in case of emergency. An officer will meet with you in person to collect the information necessary to thoroughly investigate what has occurred and document it in a police report.

Victims, witnesses, or other involved persons who prefer not to call the police department directly may report hate crimes or hate incidents online by clicking here(link is external)

What is a Hate Crime?

California’s hate crime laws are codified in Penal Code Sections 422.55, 422.6, 422.7, and 422.75.

California Penal Code 422.55 defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim. This includes:

  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Association with a person or group of persons with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics

Criminal acts include, but are not limited to:

  • Vandalism
  • Physical violence against the person of another
  • Criminal threats
  • Theft

What is a Hate Incident?

Hate incidents are defined by the California Department of Justice as “an action or behavior motivated by hate, but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. If a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime.”

Examples of hate incidents include, but are not limited to:

  • Name-calling, including racial slurs or other derogatory terminology
  • Insults
  • Distributing hate material in public places
  • Displaying hate material on private property

What is Hate Speech?

Hate speech is any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons on the basis of race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, or national origin.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects most speech, even when it is disagreeable, offensive, or hurtful.

What can I expect when reporting a Hate Crime or Hate Incident?

If you are making a report directly to the Irvine Police Department, you should expect a professional and compassionate uniformed police officer to respond to your location to conduct an investigation.  The officer will ask you questions about your experience, collect any available evidence, and ultimately document what happened in a police report.

If the facts you are reporting meet the legal definition of a hate crime, a criminal investigation will commence. This may ultimately lead to the arrest of the involved suspect(s) and subsequent prosecution by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

If the event does not meet the legal definition of a hate crime, a police report will still be taken to document the circumstances surrounding the hate incident.

Can I Remain Anonymous?

Generally, when a police report is filed, it becomes a public record. However, victims of hate crimes falling under Penal Codes 422.6, 422.7, and 422.75 may request that their name and personal information remain confidential. When you contact IPD to file a report, the officer who meets with you will discuss this option in more detail.

Individuals completing an online report may choose not to provide their name or other personal information. However, this may limit IPD’s ability to thoroughly investigate what is being reported. It may also hinder the criminal prosecution of involved suspects.

What can I do to stop Hate Crimes?

Establish a hate crime network that includes law enforcement, local government, schools, religious organizations, and community organizations to promote prevention and awareness. Learn to identify the differences between hate crimes, hate incidents, and hate speech and know the laws pertaining to each.

What resources are available for victims of Hate Crimes and Hate incidents in Orange County?

Orange County Human Relations maintains a comprehensive list of all available resources.  You can find more information on their website at:

https://www.ochumanrelations.org/hatecrime/hate-crime-resources/(link is external)

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